Wednesday, May 29, 2013

No money down you say?

Want to buy a house?  Are you lacking cash?
USDA loan, RD loan, US Department of Ag Rural Development Loan
A Rural Development (USDA) loan could be your answer!
Of course there are some limitations on the location or the property, type/size of property and of course your income level but I have had buyers experience great pride in homeownership using this program!
Does this interest you? More here:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The time is right to buy a home, however...

I got a reminder note from Curt Smith over at Bell Mortgage today and I thought it was important to share!
by +Sarah Marrinan - Keller Williams Premier Realty 

Just in case it's slipped past you, mortgage rates have been on a pretty fast climb the past 2 ½ weeks and we’ve seen the conventional 30 year fixed move from about 3.375% to 3.875% over that time.  FHA has gone from 3.25% to 3.50%.  Attached is an article from Bloomberg today that discusses some of the reasons. I don’t recall in recent memory a climb in rates this fast or steep so I just wanted to make you all aware so that you can make your clients aware.  Hopefully things will start swinging back the other way! Please let me know if you have questions or if I can be of assistance to your clients.  Thanks!Curt Smith

Please reach out if you need help finding a home or refinancing while interest rates are still at all time lows! We do not have a crystal ball or a time machine but one thing is for certain, these government subsidized low rates can't last forever.

Monday, May 27, 2013

You are going to LOVE your home! PROJECT #8: Swap Out Your Windows

And we are on to PROJECT #8!

by +Sarah Marrinan - Keller Williams Premier Realty 

Swap out the old windows for dual-paned.
Switching out your old single paned windows for new dual-paned ones might make your home look better and it will definitely make your home operate more efficiently – and more comfortable. Dual-paned windows minimize heat-loss in the winter and keep the cool air in, in the summer, so you’re not trying to heat up and cool down the whole outdoors through the leaks in your windows. They’re also a must if you have street noise or other noise challenges around your home; the extra insulation traps noise before it can get to you, inside your home.

As with everything, costs vary by location and by the quality of window you choose, but you can use $200-300/window, installed, as a rough rule of thumb. Some older homes can require wood repair of rotted out window frames, in the course of switching to dual-paned, which can increase the project cost significantly. Also, many cities and states offer rebates for installing dual paned windows (and making other energy-efficient upgrades, by the by), which can dramatically defray the costs of this particular remodeling project. This is one of those $10K-ish projects that actually can pay for itself over time.

**Looking for tips on getting your home ready to sell?  Call me at 651-964-0289 for a personal consultation!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wall Street Home Resale Fees A.K.A. Private Transfer Fees

Home buyers and sellers should be aware of a legal instrument, called Wall Street Home Resale Fees (also known as Private Transfer Fees).

Municipalities have long used similar fees, called transfer taxes, to raise revenues or recoup public subsidies for private development projects, but private transfer fees are relatively new.

Private Transfer Fees are for-profit covenants that require homeowners to pay a premium for the right to sell their property.  These fees are typically placed on properties by developers and often go unnoticed by unsuspecting homebuyers.

Private Transfer Fees are inserted into home sale contracts by private third parties, and require that every time a home is sold for the next 99 years, a percentage of the sale of the home (usually 1%) be paid to the third party.  In return, homeowners receive nothing but reduced home equity and a harder time selling their home.

Traditional covenants have an accepted and beneficial role in the housing market by benefitting the land. Resale fees levied by homeowners' and condo associations direct money back towards homeowners in the form of infrastructure and amenity improvements. 
This is what differentiates them from the private, for-profit transfer fee.

So you are probably wondering why our regulating government would let such a thing happen. Well, rest assured it's being faught. Check out all the states with laws against it, including Minnesota!

Do you like being informed about general home-owner stuff?  Subscribe to this blog! :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

You're going to LOVE your home! PROJECT #7: Update Your Bathroom(s)!

by +Sarah Marrinan - Keller Williams Premier Realty 

According to Wiki Answers we spend A LOT of time in the bathroom...

  • 15 min per day (hygiene)
  • 15 min per day (facilities)
  • 30 min per day total
  • 210 min per week
  • 10920 min per year // 182 hrs // 7.58 days
  • A person lives to be 75 yrs old // 819000 mins// 13650 weeks// 568.75 days // A year and 1/2
  • 15 min per day (hygiene)
  • 15 min per day (facilities)
  • 30 min per day total
  • 210 min per week
  • 10920 min per year // 182 hrs // 7.58 days
  • A person lives to be 75 yrs old // 819000 mins// 13650 weeks// 568.75 days // A year and 1/2 it's only natural this room makes the list!

Project # 7. Bring a bathroom up to date!

There are dozens of things you can do to your bathrooms to bring them into the 21st century for well under the $10,000 mark. For example, replacing that 1960's pink tub for a Jacuzzi tub -a commonly listed "upgrade" on houses for sale - might run somewhere between $1500 and $3500.

Maybe heated tile flooring is your dream. Depending on the size of the room and existing wiring, this could easily be under $1,000.

If you’re committed and smart, you can group a number of projects like these into a bathroom that feels like new for maybe just $1,000 or so!
  • Replace the vanity with a new wood model that has a stone counter.
  • Add a new mirror and faucet. Alternatively, keep your current vanity but replace your toilet and faucet and add a new vinyl floor.
  • Improve lighting and ventilation with a new combination light and exhaust fan. One with a heat setting will keep you from getting chilled when you get out of the shower.
  • Add a set of sconces on either side of the mirror or medicine cabinet.
  • Update towel bars, hooks, toothbrush and toilet paper holders, and cabinet hardware. Add matching shelves for your towels and toiletries.
  • Switch your standard showerhead to one with multiple settings, including a pulsating or massage setting.
  • Keep your towels toasty with a heated towel bar, some of which cost $100 or less.
(Kitchen lovers, think about some of these bathroom "perk ups" and apply them in the kitchen! Lighting, faucets, cabinet handles... maybe a deeper or new style sink... all great, affordable ways to love your kitchen more!)

Have you recently done any bathroom updates? I would love to see your before and after pictures if you are willing to share them with me!

**Looking for tips on getting your home ready to sell?  Call me at 651-964-0289 for a personal consultation!
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Sunday, May 19, 2013

The "Hidden Costs" of Purchasing Bank-Owned Properties

Potential Extra Upfront Costs Associated in Buying a Foreclosed Home

There are costs associated with any home you will purchase but bank-owned/corporate-owned/REO homes tend to have extra costs that aren't always recognized upfront by the buyer. In fact, there are so many things to consider with these properties, I will only cover a few here and discuss further in additional posts so let's get right to it.

•Utilities Costs
Because foreclosures have often been winterized and the utilities are shut off, the buyer is often the one incurring the expense to have them turned back on and assume operational costs prior to closing for the purpose of inspection and appraisal.  If the property is being purchased using financing, the appraiser will require the utilities to be on. If they are not, the buyer will likely have to pay for re-inspection by the appraiser once all utilities are activated. Not only is this an expense, dealing with utilities for a home you don't own can be time-consuming and confusing.

Inspection Costs
Most bank-owned properties are sold "as-is" and of course with no disclosures so often owner-occupant buyer's want a more thorough home inspection done and sometime these come at a higher cost.  Inspectors often encounter problems you will want to have looked at by a professional prior to purchase. All this must be done in what is usually a VERY short time frame after your offer is accepted so have your "team" of inspectors and tradesmen on speed dial if you are considering buying a foreclosure.

Other Real Estate Expenses
Title companies, lenders and real estate companies all have their own fees. Some sellers help buyers cover these expenses.  In the case of buying a lender-owned home, it's often a different approach than owner occupant sellers.  For example, the lender owner may offer to pay your title insurance if you use their title company but they may be offering a lower buyer's broker compensation than what your representation agreement states leaving you to pay the difference to your brokerage.

   Because I try to keep all my posts to a "less than 5 minute read" I'll stop there and pick up with another post about things to consider when buying a foreclosure.  In the end, knowing what to expect and having a good agent to walk you through it are necessary when considering buying a REO property.

Please search this blog for posts labeled Foreclosure Headaches for more things to consider when looking at unoccupied homes.

Monday, May 13, 2013

You're going to LOVE your home! PROJECT #6: Floors

Your floors probably take some of the most abuse of any part of your house.... maybe they should have been earlier in the list... hmmm...

Project # 6. Swap out your carpet.

by +Sarah Marrinan - Keller Williams Premier Realty 

You might LOVE your carpet but many Americans are living with carpet they really, really dislike, whether because of its color, its condition or the upkeep and maintenance it requires.

If you can’t stand your carpet, you can estimate that it’ll run you about $300-$500 per room* to replace it with new carpet,

Maybe you are done with carpet all together.  For $1500-$2000 per room* you could replace it with hardwood.

While real wood floors could really set you back, laminate versions come in a variety of price points starting as low as $.99/sq foot (plus installation)*.  Tile could be another great answer.  Or maybe you want the tile look without the "cold" and you pick a vinyl that has the tile look.

No matter what you choose, it's time to ditch the worn (and probably dirty) carpet.

*Pricing varies depending on where you live, how large your rooms are and what specific materials you choose in terms of the replacement floors

Stay Tuned for more tips!

**Looking for tips on getting your home ready to sell?  Call me at 651-964-0289 for a personal consultation!
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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Five Things You Must Know About the Current Housing Market

Even if you are not thinking about buying or selling real estate right now, it affects our economy so it's best you have an idea where things stand. 
by +Sarah Marrinan - Keller Williams Premier Realty 

Know this:

1) 2010 is recognized as the "bottom of the market" even though some areas continued to fall in 2011 and even 2012.  The recovery is patchy. Know your LOCAL market.

2) Lenders are cautious. Lending standard are overly strict and underwriting standards are tight making it hard for those with "less than perfect credit" to obtain a mortgage. Plus, banks own land that was foreclosed on and they are not eager to sell it for a loss. (The same can often be said for foreclosed homes.)

3) Mortgage rates are at historic lows. Most loans are currently backed by a government housing agency. The feds are keep rates low and this won't go on forever.

4) Real Estate flippers and investors are "at risk" if mortgage rates jump.  The higher the interest rates, the less people can afford to pay for housing.

5) Foreign buyers. Say what? Yes, foreign investors taking interest in U.S real estate shows faith in our market recovery but this is also helping to drive prices up for Americans.

What does this mean if you are thinking about buying or selling?
Buyers: You can afford more now while prices are still relatively low and interest rates are unbelievably low.
Sellers: If your market is recovering, you have better negotiating power AND the likely hood of your home selling is high!

Caution on both sides of the deal: Appraisals.  This is not just limiting in price but also condition. (See #2.)

Want to talk about it? Call me!


disclaimer: I am not a financial consultant, tax attorney, etc.  Please seek those professional services if you need them.

Monday, May 6, 2013

You're going to LOVE your home! PROJECT #5: New Kitchen Appliances

Whether you love to cook and entertain or not, everybody wants a nice kitchen!

Project # 5. New kitchen appliances.

by +Sarah Marrinan - Keller Williams Premier Realty 

In terms of sheer functionality, new kitchen appliances can create an overwhelming upgrade to your family’s everyday life.

A new fridge will run you anywhere from $350 to $2,500 on average (though French door, custom and commercial versions can cost upwards of $10,000 or more); a new stove/oven range can run anywhere from $300 to $6,000 (with the commercial, 40-inch ranges running from $9,000 to $20,000+) and an appliance store dishwasher will cost you somewhere around $150 to $1,600.

Go Green.  A smart move is to include energy efficient appliances, windows, doors and more. Not only will these add-ons help you save money on energy, but there may also be tax breaks that you can take advantage of. For example, EnergySTAR products are eligible for a 30% tax break, making going green a financially and ecologically smart move.

Check back next week for the next tip!

**Looking for tips on getting your home ready to sell?  Call me for a personal consultation!
Follow Me on Twitter!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Five Must Have Supplies for Moving

Moving Supplies List

What packing supplies will you need? 

Great moving tips can reduce a lot of stress! Here are the five MUST HAVE packing supplies when planning a move.

1. Packing Boxes
When it comes to moving supplies, cardboard boxes can be your biggest expense. Often , moving companies provide the boxes for you. Movers use standard-size boxes, as well as specialty boxes for items such as mirrors and artwork. The key is to use the right box for the right items and do make sure that you fill the box snugly to prevent moving, shifting and breaking.

2. Packing paper
Bubble wrap and Packing Peanuts are bad for the environment but if you are reusing it from something else, go for it. TIP: Use your towels and wash clothes to wrap your breakable items before putting them in boxes.  This will save you money on buying packing materials.

2. Use the right kind of packing tape
Use old-fashioned packaging tape, the 2-inch wide kind. After all, this is what it was meant for - packing!

3. Box cutter
Once you are ready to unpack those boxes, you don't want to break all your nails (or anything within the box) trying to get the tape off. A box cutter, an important unpacking supply, will slice through the packing tape easily. And if you need to break down your boxes for recycling, the box cutter will make that job a lot easier.

4. Sharpie
The Sharpie is a small but mighty packing tool. Unless you want to play "what's inside this box" when you get to your new house, make sure you label your boxes. "You don't need an inventory of every item," says Fierst. "But a general idea, as well as the room you want it to go to, will really help when you unpack that box."

5. Moving Blankets/Tarps
Whether you get them from your moving company or you use blankets you already own or you buy some from the thrift store, it's important to cover your big items to prevent them from getting damaged.

What do you do with the boxes when you are done?
-Return them to the moving company
-Flatten and organize them for a future move
-Offer them to a real estate agent for other clients to use
-Take them to the recycling area at the town dump.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tips for buying NEW construction homes

Five things you should consider when choosing new construction over an existing home.

Unless you have an individual lot and hired a custom builder that will build-to-suit on your lot, most new homes are built in developments with a collective style. These developments can be as small as a cul-de-sac, or as massive as a former farm field filled with acres of new roads and new homes.
Often new construction homes are more expensive than resale homes of a similar size. They are built to the latest codes and standards, they tend to be contemporary styled and energy efficient. Sometimes, these types of developments can represent a savings over established developments with existing homes.
Either way, the decision between a new development and an established community is worth taking time to consider.

Here are some ways to make sure the new house you're buying is really the house you want:

  • Check the builder's track record. What else has the company built? Were previous projects completed on time, on budget and without bad blood between the builder and buyers?
  • Walk the streets. If you live nearby and previous stages of the development are occupied, ask the residents if the builder did quality work and lived up to contractual commitments.
  • Picture your home, not the model home. You can certainly have the granite counters, surround-sound home theater and jetted tub you saw in the model home, but they're not included in the base price. You will pay extra for them.
  • Bring your own agent. If the builder has a real estate agent on site, the agent will be more than happy to help you. But, on-site agents work for the builders who hire them. Their best interests will be for the builder, not you.
  • Finally, consider the intangibles. Similarly styled homes attract like-minded buyers, and most developments are built with families in mind however other communities may be designed for retirement. Depending on your point of view, the consistency, conformity and neighbors can be a blessing or a curse.
Start your search for a new home here:

Ready to get more information about building a new home? Try these resources:
Articles about Building a New Home
Interview and Find the Right Agent to Help you with New Construction
Choosing between Production Builders and Custom Builders